What are ways to get a new social networking site discovered and building membership? My new Elgg site is SimplyFair.net, an envisioned social network on fairness.
share your site on all and any of your social network accounts ( Facebook, etc.), bookmark it everywhere you can, have your friends share and bookmark it. Comment on blogs and forums including link to your site......
Free Link building, than keep updating the site with content that's relative to your niche. It really all depends on how competitive is niche you're in.
The short answer is; with great difficulty.
There are so many social networks around and the number will only increase as the software becomes more and more available (with 200$ software from phpfox you can set up a facebook-like site in one hour and without any customization, programming skills and it looks pretty professional, more so than Elgg, at least on surface).
It is easy to repeat the old marketing motto of "unique selling point". Even so, it is difficult to get noticed in this ever getting bigger crowd. If you check the internet advice, you should set up pages for your site at facebook, you should leave comments on other people's pages, you should promote your site via twitter etc. I am not sure about the return on invested time on such marketing. Everybody is doing it.
I believe at this late stage, there are two ways to really promote a social networking site:
1- It should not be just another "social networking site". It should provide real benefits to the members, other than just connecting them, letting them chat etc. One example is couchserving.org. Members connect with others to exchange accomodation/hospitality. This site is focused and provides a tangible service for its members that facebook does not. OK this is indeed a "unique selling point" that marketing monkeys love to sing.
2- Virtuality is not enough anymore. Set up a link with the real world. There must already be some real world organizations, foundations, churches, mosques, atheist orgs run by like-minded people out there. Go visit them in physical world and tell them about your site. Encourage them to sign up and use your site as a platform to communicate.
Will these work? I have no idea, I am just a theorist talking away...
Answer is simple - you have to create a networking site which answers to needs that no other website adresses, or answers them significantly better than any other website existing - so that when people go to your website, they won't want to use others. Then you need a campaign which is efficient thanks to it's uniqueness and some specific factors that it utilizes, or a big capital.
How to do this is a (multi) million dollar question :) It's still happening from time to time however, so question is still valid.
become active on other social networks that are relevant. be inspiring and attractive and others will associate with you. desire what we all need - love.. and allow that to transform your awareness, energy and alignment internally. ultimately we need wellbeing and love, not technology so much.. so the foundations need to be true for the creation to be great.
so, essentially the same as 'offline' 'success' ;)